Re: [ox-en] Re: Role of ownership
- From: "Patrick Anderson" <agnucius gmail.com>
- Date: Tue, 4 Mar 2008 14:14:16 -0700
Copyleft is not at the end of peer production development but at the
beginning. The end of that process will be the end of excluding property
of all means of production, "triple free peer production".
I slightly disagree, but maybe only with wording.
For collectively owned material means of production (say a tractor),
each of us will need the ability to at least temporarily *exclude*
others (time sharing). I image the current User would pay rent to the
collective others for the *exclusion* of others attempting to Use
during that time, and for any extra 'wear' that we inflict.
One of the most interesting aspects of Steven Weber's book, The Success
of Open Source, is the importance he attaches to property in the new
"maturing mode of production". He gives a good definition of the main
change: "Property in open source is configured fundamentally around the
right to distribute, not the right to exclude".
Distribution is one of the four "User Freedoms" which define Free
Software. The entire list in abbreviated form is: Use(0), Modify(1),
Copy(2), Share(3). The "right to distribute" is of course "Share(3)".
The GNU GPL 'repairs' the originally unassailed freedoms to Use(0) and
Share(3) by *removing* the power of Copyright to artificially exclude
others by fiat. If there were no such thing as Copyright, these
freedoms would have defaulted to 'TRUE' because there would be nobody
to stop you.
The output of software production is called "Object Code" (such as an
executable). When that product is distributed, the new user's freedom
to Modify(1), and Copy(2) it are hampered unless the virtual Means of
Production (described as the "Source Code" and "Supporting Sources")
are also made available to the User.
It is important that the User gain "at cost" access to these virtual
Sources of Production even if that User does not have the skills to
operate them (cannot be the worker), for then competition between all
possible workers is maximized - causing Wages and Profit to be cleanly
separated. Otherwise Users are disallowed "at cost" access to the
Sources of Production, Workers can hold their Wages artificially high
by disallowing full competition. This hidden form of profit
subjugates the User, and is held in place just the same as the raw
Capitalism we see today - by withholding "at cost" access to the
Sources of Production.
So, to protect every potential User's freedom to Modify(1) and Copy(2)
products, the GNU GPL *adds* a constraint - not on Use(0), but on
Sharing(3). Somewhat paradoxically, this restriction actually
*requires* Copyright for enforcement. I will try to show later, by
analogy, that we could use property rights in a similar way for
efficient Sharing of the material means of production.
The GNU GPL's condition of distribution - a kind of "Free (as in
Freedom) Trade Agreement" can be summarized as: "If you Share the
Objects of this production, you must also help the User gain "at cost"
access to the Sources of that production.".
But who could believe that a system based on
private ownership [one should say *excluding* ownership]
defended by coercion will accept to disappear - or to fade -
Well, the most soft way can only be establishing an *including* process
based on commons. This is yet the way free software succeeds.
The problem is how to put material means of production into the commons.
For software and free-reproducible means of production that is
relatively easier, which explains the success of free software. But
things are different with material means of production.
So, it appears we need an inclusive process that insures the Users of
products (or Objects) somehow gain "at cost" access to the material
means of those products (I like to call them "Physical Sources" to
remind us they are analogous to the "Source Code" of software).
The proposal I make is that we could start new businesses or
organizations while applying a constraint on the trade of Objects
(products) that says "Profit should be handled as an investment from
the User that pays it."
Owners that enforce this constraint (maybe through a "Terms of
Operation" for that facility, or some kind of contract) would cause
new Object Users to incrementally gain "at cost" access to the
Physical Sources of production. And, since the owners of the means
are automaticaly the owners of the product, those users would also
eventually have "at cost" apples when they are the collective but
divisible owners of the land, water, trees and tools.
This obviously flys in the face of the traditional view that the
Physical Sources should be owned by those that possess the skills to
operate them (the Workers), but almost every small businesses is
already "Worker Owned" anyway. If that was a solution, the only thing
that need occur is to either keep businesses small (a common tactic
that is certainly not revolutionary), or somehow require all owners in
the business do 'some' work. It shouldn't take much thinking to
realize, as the business grows, some of the 'workers', especially the
originators of that business will claim to be working in posh,
extremely overpaid positions.
All Workers are Consumers, and most Consumers are Workers. These are
not different sets nearly as much as they are different activities.
If the act of Consumption (Use) determined ownership, we wouldn't have
the trouble of Worker exploitation, because that Worker AS CONSUMER
would be a partial Owner in the Physical Sources required for products
Protecting a Worker's ability to Consume eliminates "Wage Slavery"
while simultaneously removing the bizarre notion that employment is a
need in itself instead of a burden we would want to overcome. Other
economic oddities such as considering extremely low prices (dumping) a
problem also disappear. Abundance is good and scarcity is finally bad
again when each User has sufficient ownership in the material means of
production need to insure the products they command (Consumers can
then command instead of 'demand', since they will be the Owners).
Contact: projekt oekonux.de